John Rutsey


1968-1974 Rush - drums  

Personal information

Died on: 11.05.2008

John Howard Rutsey (1953 - May 11, 2008) Ontario, Canada was a former drummer, most recognized for being a co-founding member of Rush along with Alex Lifeson and Jeff Jones (who was shortly replaced by Geddy Lee).

Rutsey played drums in Rush from summer 1968 until July 1974. It was during this time that he played on the "Not Fade Away"/"You Can't Fight It" single and the band's eponymous debut LP. According to the Rush biography Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home & Away written by Martin Popoff, Lee and Lifeson both acknowledged that during the writing and recording sessions for the band's debut album Rutsey was given the role of chief lyricist, however, come time to record the songs Rutsey did not deliver any lyrics. In interviews, Lee and Lifeson have both said that Rutsey was dissatisfied with what he had written and tore up the lyric sheets.

Soon after the band released its debut album, Rutsey left the band, apparently due to health concerns related to diabetes, which may have posed potential problems with extended tours. His eventual replacement was Neil Peart.

Rutsey maintained a low media profile after leaving the band. In a 1989 Rockline interview, Lifeson remarked, "John's still around. I see John quite often. He gave up playing shortly after he left the band and went into bodybuilding. He competed on an amateur level for a while, doing that for a few years, and has sort of been in and out of that, but he still works out, and I work out with him a few times a week at a local gym - at a Gold's, here in Toronto." In a more recent interview on the VH1 Classic show "Hangin' With," Alex revealed that he had quit seeing John around 1990.

On May 11, 2008, Rutsey died in his sleep of an apparent heart attack, possibly related to complications from diabetes. Rutsey's family wish to keep the funeral a private affair, although an obituary posted in the Toronto Star on May 15 suggested those wishing to pay tribute to Rutsey could do so by making a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Ontario.